First of all, I was checking my archives to see when I first started getting crabby about Christmas last year, and HOLY DOG YOU GUYS. Get that woman some anti depressants. Jesus. I was basically curled up in the corner at the mere mention of the holidays. Anyway.
This year I am actually sort of, dare I say it, looking forward to Christmas? Which means, obviously, that’s it sure to be awful, because quite frankly low expectations and a dubious outlook are the keys to my all around general happiness and also the reason I liked that movie where Ben Aflleck went into space after doing it with Liv Tyler when no one else on the planet liked that movie, but whatever. I am excited for Christmas! Let’s just enjoy that strange feeling and hope for the best.
So last year was the first year I came up with a Christmas Plan. Having endured many years of Christmas Suckitude, it FINALLY occured to me that maybe instead of sitting around and bitching about how much it all sucked and searching for uninhabited islands where no one had ever heard of Christmas within driving distance of Sacramento, I decided that maybe I would try to do something about it. I know. Probably should have had that idea ten years earlier. Oh well.
So here’s what worked. (To refresh my memory, because chances are no one else cares):
1. The Advent Calendar. I have a big handmade advent calendar and last year I filled it with Things To Do instead of candy. This was awesome. It because a giant Event Reminder and it involved everyone in the family and it helped stretch out the crazy holiday season into little one day chunks. Some time soon I will post the list of activities we’re going to do this year and I’ll probably try to blog them again this year.
2. Stretching out the Christmas Presents. Last year I really tried to reduce the number of things that I bought. I’m not sure how successful I was at it, but all my efforts to really stretch things out helped A LOT with the over gifting/kids thing. The Christmas that Eli was 3 ish, he had over FIFTY PRESENTS to open. At one point he just gave up and walked out of the room. He just didn’t care that much about all that STUFF. So last year, I opened all the presents that came into the house from other people. Some of it I gave away (without ever even showing the kids). Of course we said thank you and of course we appreciated the gift, but thanks and appreciation does not the change the fact that we do not have room for more blocks, and we do not need more blocks. One of the consequences of living in 960 square feet is that we have a limited selection of toys. So be it.
So some stuff we donated straight to Goodwill, some stuff we wrapped back up and put in the toys for tots bin for a poor child (and “Give a present to a less fortunate child.” was on the advent calendar.) Some of the “boring presents” we opened a head of time – I put “open a christmas book” in the advent calendar and believe me when I tell you the appreciation for a Christmas book or a book on trees is seven thousand times greater on December 12th than it is on December 25th.
This year we are going to put out shoes on December 5th for St. Nicholas and the kids will either get a new pair of shoes in return, or some Christmas pajamas and some candy, I haven’t decided yet.
We also opened family gifts on Christmas Eve, and Santa Presents on Christmas Day. I had a very hard time with this idea and actually sort of still do because something about my childhood had led me to believe that only communists and serial killers open presents this way, but it worked out really well.
I also saved out larger presents (including ones from family members that were mailed here) and instead of going out on Christmas Eve and buying a bunch of random junk at Cost Plus or Target or Walgreens, I put any present that would fit in a stocking in a stocking. And anything that looked “fun” at Trader Joe’s I bought for the same reason. So the stockings were full of good stuff like flashlights and makeup (for me) and pajamas, instead of useless junk drawer type items.
An unexpected benefit of this “vetting” of the Christmas gifts was that it took all the het up imaginary romance out of the Christmas presents I was getting. I like to imagine that all of the various pretty things under the tree are diamond bracelets and car keys, when in fact they are calendars and bars of soap. Once I took the “running away with imagination” factor out of the game, I was actually kind of excited to get a calendar and some soap.
This does not mean that I never want to get another romantic magical fabulous Christmas gift ever again, but in years when I don’t, it really helps. Does that make any sense?
3. Christmas Morning. Christmas morning we woke up and opened stockings and then we went and had dim sum for breakfast. Everyone loved this.
4. Christmas Dinner. Christmas dinner we went over to our neighbors house for a big fancy dinner, because she is awesome and Eli invited us over to her house. Then we went and drove around and looked at Christmas lights. It was perfection.
5. We stayed at our house. Everyone is invited to come here, but they never do. Regardless, our days of trooping off to other people’s houses to have those people’s Christmasses are over. We are a family and we deserve our own family Christmas just as much as anyone else. Christmas is too much and small children are too much to add family dynamics on top of it.
What Needs Some Refining:
1. Christmas Eve Dinner. My goal last year was to make a really fun easy but different schmancy sort of dinner, like champagne and fancy appetizers and chocolate. I bought a bunch of frozen appetizers from Trader Joe’s and they were actually a lot of work and sort of gross and made us all feel icky the next day. So now I’m not sure what to do for Christmas Eve. I’d still like it to be low key and easy to clean up and sort of fancy. Maybe if I go out at 8 AM the day before I can find crab.
2. We’re also going to have to come up with some kind of Christmas dinner, which adds to the problem. I don’t want to cook two big deal dinners in a row. So this remains undecided. Maybe we’ll do a giant piece of meat for Christmas dinner and fondue for Christmas Eve. That sounds fun! And how hard can some melted cheese be, really? I would need to buy some kind of fondue pot, I guess, but that can be arranged.
3. And that’s about it. My last goal is not to buy too much stuff but I’ll be honest with you, that’s already not going that well. I’m hoping to be DONE DONE DONE the first week of December and then not to let myself buy anything else, but the last minute sales always get me anyway.
Filed under: Uncategorized |